Philippines - The Senate Committee on Local Government will conduct a hearing on Thursday, April 7, on the proposed postponement of the August 2011 elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Committee chairman Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. said the initial hearing will look into the true sentiments of the people of ARMM regarding the Palace's bill seeking to postpone elections to 2013 and appointing Officers-in-charge (OIC's) in the interim.
Marcos said Malacañang should establish the true sentiments of the people of ARMM before insisting on postponing the polls and appointing OICs. He said ARMM's autonomous status is enshrined in the Constitution and must be the basis for the consideration regarding the postponement of the elections.
“The idea of having ARMM's officials appointed by the Palace in Manila rather than elected by ARMM's residents mocks the very essence of the autonomy of that region," he said in a statement.
“I seriously doubt that the administration can just walk in and insist that they appoint the officials of the ARMM local government rather than have them elected by the people without having the populace of that province up in arms, so to speak," he added.
Invited to attend the Senate hearing are officials of the ARMM led by Acting Regional Governor Ansaruddin Alonto Adiong, Commission on Elections (Comelec), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of National Defense (DND), Department of Justice (DOJ), Philippine National Police (PNP), the Office of Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (OPAPP), Philippine Constitution Association (PHILCONSA), the Regional Legislative Assembly (RLA), National Commission on Muslim Filipinos, Reform ARMM Now Coalition, Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CENPEG), Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), Bangsamoro Solidarity Movement, Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) and other officials from the ARMM region.
Senate Bill 2756 calls for the deferment of elections in the ARMM’s five provinces and one city (Marawi) and gives President Benigno Aquino III the power to appoint OICs until new officials are elected in 2013. The House of Representative earlier approved its version of the measure before Congress adjourned its regular session last March 24.